Best practices to follow if you are interviewing for a remote team

February 21, 2020
Wunderdogs

Remote working is on the rise – and rightfully so. In many industries it is just as if not more effective to work using a remote team. As a fully remote creative agency Wunderdogs champion this approach, and in the last month alone we’ve interviewed 22 candidates in 13 different countries.

The best practices for in-person interviews are extensively documented and well understood, however after speaking with multiple candidates I wanted to share some practical do’s and don’ts to help others successfully join the world of distributed work.

Some of the below may seem obvious and although slightly humorous it also felt necessary. The creative industry is generally less formal than others which is a major draw for many – but irregardless of industry norms basic standards should be adhered to when meeting prospective employers for the first time.

Connectivity

To effectively do your job a strong internet connection is vital. In fact it is arguably the only (hardware excluded) remote team work requirement. With 100% of internal and external conversations taking place online a poor connection in an interview can seriously hinder your chances. Remember, the person you’re speaking to will be imagining how this might look to a client, a supplier or a colleague. 

Before interviewing double check you have a strong connection – the old cliche of not getting a second shot at a first impression is never more relevant when the person struggling to understand you can hang up and end things before they’ve even begun. 

Appropriate Devices

Phone cameras are excellent for face time, selfies and doubling as a mirror. They are less excellent for interviews. The quality is often inferior and (even worse) joining from a smartphone may be considered a sign of poor preparation: either the candidate has decided it is appropriate to conduct the interview whilst in transit, or they do not possess the correct equipment for this job. Remote-employers will expect candidates to interview from a laptop or desktop. Tablets and smartphones are not suitable for presenting work, have a tendency to struggle with connectivity and are likely to frustrate all parties involved. 

Understand the technology

Whether using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype or one of the many other options available –  make sure your first interaction with the platform is not 30 seconds before your interview. I promise you there are few things more stressful than dialling in on time only to find you need to create an account / download a plugin / update your laptop permissions in order to join. Not only will this delay the interview, it will also completely throw you off your game and it’s likely you’ve worked hard to get to this point! Familiarize yourself with the technology and ideally arrive on the call before everyone else. 

Equally, if you are sharing your screen remember to mute all desktop notifications. The last thing you need when presenting is a Whatsapp notification from a friend asking how your recent date went.

Time Zones

Not understanding time difference is not an excuse for missing an interview. When applying for a position at a remote team it is your responsibility to manage your own time, the same way it will be once you accept the role. Like many remote businesses Wunderdogs use a shared calendar to allow candidates to select a time that works best for them, ours states it runs on Pacfiic Standard Time, therefore we expect candidates to do the due diligence and check what this means for them. I’ve heard stories of candidates missing two interviews in a row due to time zone misunderstandings. Needless to say it didn’t fill the employers with confidence. 

Attire

One of the main perks we offer is the ability to work from anywhere in the world. In fact we actively encourage travel, however if you’re surfing later please do not attend your interview beach ready. In remote team managers still expect employees to present themselves a certain way. In our case the vast majority of our clients are based in San Francisco, work in high pressure industries and expect professionalism from all their partners. We don’t expect suits – not wearing one is an industry perk – but equally a vest and trunks are not acceptable regardless of the temperature in Rio.

Location

We understand co-working spaces are expensive and not everyone has the luxury of a home office, however when meeting your prospective employee for the first time give some careful consideration to your surroundings. Here’s a list of unacceptable locations to have a first interview: loud coffee shop, your friends sofa, the busy family kitchen. Just because you’re calling from home it does not mean we need a glimpse of what you’re having for dinner. Find a quiet, distraction free location with a nice backdrop that shows you’re serious about wanting this job. 

When 100% of business is conducted in a virtual environment interviewers will place importance on subtleties you may never have previously considered. In offices we adapt to the professional behaviors and environments created for us, but distributed teams are individually responsible for demonstrating employer brand values and attitudes. This can be done in a wealth of ways and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. At Wunderdogs we ask all team members to dress smartly for all ‘external’ interactions, yet our day to day internal calls are a much more relaxed affair. A mutual understanding and appreciation of best working practices are vital to ensuring success – a topic covered in this recent blog on starting a remote company by Daria, our CEO. 

In short the nuance of remote interviews is considering the perspectives of all possible stakeholders: how would this interaction be perceived by future clients, managers, colleagues or suppliers? How would you approach this call if it were an important pitch, your annual review or a contract negotiation? As long as you show an understanding and appreciation for these differentiators you’re sure to make a strong first impression. 

If you’d like to learn more about what we do, have questions about remote life or want some further advice on how to interview feel free to send me a message, otherwise – good luck!

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